Thursday, January 29, 2009
Amazon 2009: Day Twenty-Two (Monday, January 26)
An hour after leaving Santarém, we arrived in the Amazon capital of Manaus. Thus, at about 2:00 a.m. we were met by vans that took us to downtown Manaus to check in to hotel rooms that we would keep until we left about 20 hours later. We didn’t get to sleep until after 3:00 a.m., so we agreed to meet at noon in the lobby to chase down lunch nearby.
Our rooms in Manaus were pretty sparse, but they were fine for us to just sleep until mid-morning. We got lunch at a nearby self-service where everyone loads up on food and pays by the kilo for what they have selected. We got to enjoy fish and barbecued beef, among other things, but we already missed the cooking from back at our camp.
After lunch we went to visit the most famous site in town: the Teatro Amazonas, a beautiful opera house that was built at the height of the rubber boom. Though it is strangely (and exclusively) European and therefore a bit out of place where it is, the theater is striking, no matter how little interest one might have in architecture. The main auditorium is ringed with 5-person boxes and the overall décor is still stunning even after the passage of more than 100 years. The acoustics are great too, and the guide even let Shawny belt out a quick melody to give us a feel for the way sound carries in there. Though few of us would have predicted that we would be interested in a tour of an opera house, we had no regrets about going to this one today.
We did, however, have regrets about our next stop: a shopping center recommended by our hotel as a good place to buy clothes and souvenirs, as well as a source of good food and entertainment. After about an hour inside, we decided that we totally disagree with the hotel’s assessment. We got so bored so fast that we cut our plan short by one hour and headed back to the hotel. Maybe what we learned is that we just aren’t that interested in our lives as consumers anymore, as we were truly just plain bored in that mall.
Despite this shopping let down, we weren’t disappointed with our next move: dinner at a churrascaria. A churrascaria is kind of a Brazilian barbecue or steakhouse where waiters come around with huge pieces of meat on skewers and cut off big slabs for the diners at their request. Every part of a cow comes to the table at some point, along with various parts of chicken and even barbecued cheese. We took over a huge table in the center of the restaurant and just ate and ate to our hearts’ content.
We cleared out in time to beat a huge cloudburst that poured down on Manaus unexpectedly. We hurried to our hotel before we got drenched, then just stood and watched as massive amounts of rain fell. The end of the downpour pretty well matched the timing of our need to load out all of our gear and head to the airport.
Once on our plane, we were surprised to discover that we were joined by only about 5 other people in our flight to Atlanta. We therefore each got a row to ourselves, meaning that we all got pretty solid sleep on that 6+ hour flight. Our flight to San Francisco was equally painless (though not as spacious) and we arrived home before noon on Tuesday.
From here our job is to finish media projects in time to present one from each team at our big public speaking gig on Tuesday, February 17. We will camp out in the computer lab until we are done. Please join us on the 17th and see what we produce!
This is the famous Amazon Theater in Manaus.
These are the fabulous mirrors inside the ballroom in the Amazon Theater.
The inside of the opera theater.
A beautiful chapel in Manaus right by the hotel where we spent our last 25 hours in Brazil.
The ceiling of the actual opera room. The four different paintings represent tragedy, dance, music, and founding of the theatre.
Part of the ceiling inside of the Ball Room of the Amazonas Theatre.
This is the famous Amazon theater in Manaus.
This statue was erected for Brazil’s independence. All continents were represented except Australia and Antarctica.
We walked past this church on our way to the theater. Beautiful songs were being sung for mass.
These were the ceramic spittoons found in the theater.
The shopping center where we went to do the last of our consuming.
We ended the day by going to a fancy barbeque restaurant. Here, they were serving chicken hearts.